May 28, 2022

Volume XII, Number 148

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D.C. Appeals Court Upholds Constitutionality of ACA Individual Mandate

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia today (November 8th) upheld the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s (“ACA”) individual mandate provision. The court found that Congress has regulatory authority in the insurance market and that ACA is constitutional under the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause. However, the timing of the D.C. Circuit’s decision prevents the case from being considered by the Supreme Court when it meets on Thursday to discuss whether to take up any of the ACA lawsuits.

The majority addressed Congress’s regulatory authority in the insurance market and found that, “Broad regulation is an inherent feature of Congress’s constitutional authority in this area; to regulate complex, nationwide economic problems is to necessarily deal in generalities.” Further “The right to be free from federal regulation is not absolute, and yields to the imperative that Congress be free to forge national solutions to national problems, no matter how local–or seemingly passive–their individual origins.”

The court held that while the individual mandate is an “encroachment on individual liberty… it is no more so than a command that restaurants or hotels are obliged to serve all customers regardless of race, that gravely ill individuals cannot use a substance their doctors described as the only effective palliative for excruciating pain, or that a farmer cannot grow enough wheat to support his own family.”

The 2-1 majority opinion was drafted by Judge Silberman, a Regan nominee, and joined by Judge Edwards, a Carter nominee. The dissent, which found that courts do not have jurisdiction to hear the case, was drafted by Judge Kavanaugh, a George W. Bush nominee.

The D.C. Circuit is the fourth U.S. Court of Appeals to hear challenges to the ACA. Previously, the Fourth Circuit dismissed challenges against the ACA, the Eleventh Circuit held the individual mandate was unconstitutional, and the Sixth Circuit upheld the constitutionality of the individual mandate.

©2022 von Briesen & Roper, s.cNational Law Review, Volume I, Number 316
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About this Author

von Briesen & Roper’s Health Law Section provides comprehensive legal services to the health care industry nationwide as both general counsel and special project counsel. Our clients include integrated delivery systems, academic medical centers, community hospitals, Catholic-sponsored hospitals, rural and critical access hospitals, imaging centers, physicians and multi-specialty clinics, specialty hospitals, ancillary suppliers, home health agencies, nursing homes, hospices, assisted living facilities, mental health and AODA facilities, DME suppliers, laboratories,...

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